Engagement Marketing

Bad Bosses – Good Teachers

This isn’t an April Fool’s joke – bad bosses have a lot to teach us (especially by example). And you don’t have to go very far to learn from them.

Bad bosses are a hot topic these days. Witness the best selling book, The No Asshole Rule, Zane Safrit’s “Worst bosses of the Year … so many choices” and Management-Issues’sThe Search for World’s Worst Boss.”

I’ve had my share of bad bosses. Fortunately, none would have been contenders for the World’s Worst list. In retrospect, I learned some valuable lessons from them – mostly about how not to treat employees.

Here are my top three lessons learned:

  1. Do not treat employees as minions whose sole function is to bolster your ego.
  2. Do not give employees assignments without all the proper information they need (either because you’re into power trips or because you really don’t know what you want, but you’ll figure it out as soon as they finish the assignment – at which point you’ll change your mind and direct them to do it differently.
  3. Do not assume your employees have no life outside the office and are available to help you 24/7. (I had one boss in particular whose mantra could have been: lack of planning on my part will constitute a constant emergency on your part.)

If you’ve worked for a bad boss, please share what you learned as a result.

2 replies on “Bad Bosses – Good Teachers”

Really good post – sign me up yes I have had a bad boss and there were a number of lessons learned. For me I had one early in my career. My boss at the time was difficult he was a screamer – tried to make his point by pointing out how dumb the mistake you made was. There was NEVER any possibility to learn from him because his message always got lost in the delivery – clearly a lesson.
A boss can and should motivate an employee – I don’t believe a bad boss can do that. Another lesson learned was because of this person I become a better boss. I worked really hard it and always concentrated on getting better focusing on improvements that I need to make that were identified by the people who worked for me.
A boss can and should shape your career – they should be fair , firm and consistant.
I look forward to reading comments from other people.

I’ve been fortunate to have had only one really bad boss. I’ve never been discriminated against on the basis of gender or race. When I was younger I was once paid less than a co-worker with the same job because he had a family.
There have been a few bosses who were demoralizing in their own ways, mostly because they discouraged me and my co-workers from bringing all that we could have brought to our jobs.
Generally speaking, though, these have been the conditions that made some bosses and jobs less than satisfactory:
1. The boss didn’t make it clear what he/she wanted from me.
2. The boss maintained double standards, allowing, and even praising, substandard (not to mention unethical/illegal) behavior and performance from some workers while criticizing and penalizing others whose performance was noteworthy.
3. The boss credited other people for my work and acknowledged them with pay raises, promotions and other forms of recognition and compensation.

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